Premier League - Analysis: Palace lose most valuable man in English football

Crystal Palace have lost the most valuable man in English football and could pay a heavy price for letting Tony Pulis go, writes Desmond Kane.

Premier League - Analysis: Palace lose most valuable man in English football

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Tony Pulis

What has happened?

You can't say there is a quiet day in the farcical environs of the Premier League management circus. Just when you think you have seen it all, something else makes you immediately think: How on earth did that happen? In the curious case of Tony Pulis, the Crystal Palace supporters must be utterly dumbfounded. On the cusp of the new season, Pulis, the club's most successful manager with a 42% win record in the Premier League, has walked out of his job at Selhurst Palace by mutual consent. This is a figure who lifted Palace from bottom spot and relegation certainties to 11th place in the standings last season. Losses off the pitch don't come much bigger than this one.


He's only a manager surely? Can't they get another one?

Well, yes. They can get a manager, but they don't come much better than Pulis. Not for a comparatively unfashionable club like Palace whose ambition is first and foremost securing their current status as part of the world's richest league. Having left Stoke following a successful seven-year period establishing them as a Premier League club and reaching an FA Cup final, Pulis's stock rose even further when he touched down at Selhurst Park last November to pick up the wreckage of what Ian Holloway had left behind. Pulis picked up the LMA's Premier League Manager of the Year gong for his six-month cameo as coach. Their form in the second half of the season was among the best in the division. They embarked upon a run of five straight wins, and suffered just one defeat in their final eight games - that came against champions Manchester City. In total he won 12 and drew five of 28 games in charge. Highly impressive form. Pulis departs preserving a managerial record of never being relegated as a coach.

What could the cost be to Palace?

Well, they are already third favourites for relegation following last night's news. Palace have not only lost a manager in Pulis: they have allowed an alchemist to walk out the door. Remaining in the Premier League in their first season was worth around £73m to Palace. An estimated £47.9m of that came from broadcast revenues. Due to the new television contract, Palace earned more than Arsenal collected from finishing third in 2013. In deciding against furnishing Pulis with a few extra million quid in the market, for whatever reason, Palace could stand to lose tens of millions if they return to the Championship. It is a huge gamble to take in every sense. And it will be a huge shame for Palace fans if it only came down to a personality clash between co-chairman Steve Parish and Pulis. It could be very careless behaviour on the club's part.

The most valuable man in English football - what are you on about?

Okay, so Pulis is never going to cost £75m or be paid £300,000-per week, but can you think of another figure who made such a significant and palpable difference on a team as Pulis did last season? Maybe David Moyes, going the other way, but Pulis by himself dragged Palace right up the table and elevated the levels of all around him - the rising tide who lifted all boats. Take Luis Suarez out of the Liverpool team and they might finish 5-10 points lower than they did last season; take Pulis away from Palace and it's a disaster.

Why did it happen?

Is has been suggested the 56-year-old Pulis held talks with Parish on Thursday amid reports their working relationship had collapsed. Like most things in life, it comes down to money. It is safe to assume that Pulis wanted more of the folding stuff to spend in the transfer market, but Parish was not for opening his wallet to fund his manager's ambition. A manager can either accept his working conditions, or decide to walk. Pulis headed for the hills. And by calling Parish's bluff, has suddenly left Palace in a right old mess.

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Tony Pulis is no longer the manager of Crystal Palace

It can't be all bad surely. Who have they signed?

They have landed Martin Kelly from Liverpool. He became the club's second paid transfer of the summer on Thursday with Fraizer Campbell arriving from Cardiff with Brede Hangeland recruited from Fulham on a free, but several players have gone including Danny Gabbidon and Jose Campana as Pulis looked to rebuild. Pulis' vision for progress was obviously not shared by his employer. He apparently was unhappy in failing to be backed in moves for Steven Caulker from Cardiff and the former Tottenham forward Gylfi Sigurdsson. They went to QPR and Swansea, respectively. Those two are probably fishing at the same end of the pond as Palace. You can understand Pulis' frustration. A feeling of discontent that has obviously proved too much to overcome.


Did an argument over Wilfried Zaha tip Pulis over the edge?

Difficult to say for sure, but it is never a good sign when a chairman is deciding who he wants to see playing. Parish was apparently hell bent on bringing Zaha back from Manchester United with Pulis not keen on the winger, who had been loaned out to Cardiff City last season. You can work out the rest, but all was not well on the issue of what Zaha would bring to the Palace squad.


What are the club saying to it?

At the moment, nothing. Nothing has been said on the club's official website. Former player Geoff Thomas seemed to sum up the general mood of the Palace fans:

So why are Crystal Palace in a spot of bother?

Well, they don't have a manager. And they are rudderless. They also head to Arsenal at teatime on Saturday which could turn into a right old flogging on the opening day of the season. Morale will surely not be high among the Palace dressing room with the majority of their players improved tenfold under Pulis. But suddenly the bloke who was like a father figure to them is gone. And Palace's players are likely to be dazed due to the actions - or inaction of their chairman - to prevent Pulis from departing the scene.


What happens now?

The assistant manager Keith Millen will run matters as a caretaker against Arsenal. In truth, they almost get a free swing at the FA Cup holders. Nobody expects them to do anything. And they are certainly not budgeting for any points when they leave the Emirates. The search for a new manager begins in earnest, and good ones come at a cost.

Who might fancy the job?

You wonder who would take it on if Pulis was not content with his conditions, but there will be blokes salivating over the idea of running a Premier League club. Ex-Cardiff boss Malky Mackay is the favourite at 4/5 with former Celtic manager Neil Lennon a 7-1 shot. Tim Sherwood and David Moyes are priced at 10s with Millen at 12-1. You can even get Glenn Hoddle - back at QPR in a coaching role - at 16-1. Or what about Neil Warnock at 16-1? No, we don't think so either. None of them sound as convincing Pulis.

So what now for Pulis?

Pulis won't be worrying too much about his future employment. The Welshman was at Wembley doing some radio work on the Community Shield between Arsenal and Manchester City on Sunday, and this onlooker can verify that he looked nothing other than upbeat. His stock has never been higher. He can relax, and wait for the next opportunity to come along. Which shouldn't be too long. A few managers in the Premier League must be slightly concerned about their own futures with Pulis suddenly out of work. Namely Sam Allardyce at West Ham United, and West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine. There will be clubs who might be only too happy to find space for Pulis if their season starts badly. A team like Palace could do with him. Oh..that's right. Forgot.


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